OSD 103: You either die an Aimpoint, or live long enough to see yourself become a Holosun
The good news about every gear nerd flame war.
Here’s a review comparing the Aimpoint Acro to the Holosun HE509T:
Reviews are fun, gear debates are the fuel of internet gun forums, we should all dress in the colors of our favorite manufacturers and hit each other with nerf swords for sport on a regular basis, etc. It’s all good clean fun. So the specifics of any particular review aren’t really the point. But here’s the thing: in this review, and in pretty much all of the others about these two optics, the verdict is that the Holosun is better than the Aimpoint … along every single axis. Costs about half as much, too.
Counterintuitively, we should all be happy about that — even if we spent $650 on the Aimpoint.
Stepping back: what does improvement mean? By definition, it implies that something changed. And when you look at the history of major improvements, it turns out that it’s a lot harder for an incumbent to reshape itself than it is for a new company to come along and just kill the incumbent with the new hotness. That’s textbook disruptive innovation. Per Clayton Christensen, who wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma and coined that term:
Why is success so difficult to sustain? That was, and still is, an important question, because when you look across the sweep of business history, most companies that once seemed successful — the best practitioners of best practice — were in the middle of the pack (or, worse, the back of it) a decade or two later. What often causes this lagging behind are two principles of good management taught in business schools: that you should always listen to and respond to the needs of your best customers, and that you should focus investments on those innovations that promise the highest returns. But these two principles, in practice, actually sow the seeds of every successful company’s ultimate demise. That’s why we call it the innovator’s dilemma: doing the right thing is the wrong thing. This dilemma rears its head when a type of innovation that we’ve termed disruptive technology arises at the low end of the market, in the simplest, most unassuming applications.
That’s the process by which Holosun starts out as a little bit of a joke, then dismissed as a toy, then begrudgingly accepted as good enough for hobbyists, and eventually reckoned with as an existential threat to the incumbents. And here’s the key thing: that is the only way you get disruptive tech. An industry where the incumbents aren’t constantly being pecked to death by hungry startups is by definition an industry that’s not moving forward.
In gun land, you can see this happening right now with optics, with guns themselves (e.g. Colt and FN’s AR-15 offerings getting sky-buried by an ever-growing pack of alternatives; the now-complete victory of polymer-frame striker-fired pistols over their legacy competition), and with accessories like slings or rail attachments. We’re currently in the early stages of seeing it happen with body armor and night vision. And looking at how much of this we’ve seen in the past 15 years versus the 15 years before that, it’s all accelerating.
There’s a short way of saying all this: death is part of life. Systems are either alive and full of death, or they are dead. So yup, gear debates are fun. But if you end up on the wrong side of one, take solace in the fact that the more that new companies threaten old ones, the healthier and stronger gun culture gets as a whole.
Oh, and if you’re starting one of those new companies, reply to this email. We want to talk to you.
This week’s links
Interesting how restrictive the laws are. General rule of thumb: gun laws in Europe are less restrictive than people think, and gun laws in the Middle East and Asia are more restrictive than people think.
Interview with TFB.
A good review of the history, with some fun technical details.
The Court has just announced that it will hear arguments next month on a case that presents this issue: Caniglia v. Strom. In this case, Mr. Caniglia was arguing with his wife and melodramatically put an unloaded gun on the table and said “shoot me now and get it over with.” His wife called a non-emergency number for the police who arrived shortly thereafter. The police disagreed about whether Mr. Caniglia was acting “normal” or “agitated” but they convinced him to take an ambulance to the local hospital for evaluation. The police did not accompany him.
While he was on his way to the hospital, Mrs. Caniglia told the police that her husband kept two handguns in the home. The police decided to search his home for the guns without obtaining a warrant. (Mrs. Caniglia’s consent to have the police search their home was legally negated because the police untruthfully told her that her husband had consented to the seizure of any guns.) The police located and seized the two guns. Mr. Caniglia sued for the violation of his 4th Amendment right to privacy and his 2nd Amendment right to keep handguns in the home for self-protection.
The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals (which is the federal court just below the Supreme Court in Caniglia’s jurisdiction) sided with the police. The court wrote: “At its core, the community caretaking doctrine is designed to give police elbow room to take appropriate action when unforeseen circumstances present some transient hazard that requires immediate attention. Understanding the core purpose of the doctrine leads inexorably to the conclusion that it should not be limited to the motor vehicle context. Threats to individual and community safety are not confined to the highways.”
Here’s wishing LAV well.
Mike Glover walks you through the basis of how a handgun works, and some things to consider when shopping for your first one.
“All signs point to step.”
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